Social media – it’s everywhere. Literally everywhere. You only need to watch a TV ad, read a website, a magazine, even read the author pages in a book and you are directed towards a social media site. There’s no avoiding it! As adults, especially adults of my age and above, I think it’s still a relatively new thing. We didn’t grow up with the Internet – we didn’t grow up with smart phones – we’ve embraced it but it wasn’t in our childhood. However, our kids are very much growing up with it being the ‘norm’. And that’s where the problem starts! So many parents or carers are now letting their children access all forms of social media – but do you know the minimum age requirements for social media?
Recently there has been quite a lot of uproar on various parenting forums about children being ‘groomed’ on social media sites. It terrifies me how easy it is for our children to be exposed to dangerous and upsetting situations – but it terrifies me more how often the children are under the minimum age requirements for social media sites. The parents in question are horrified, quite rightly, but have almost always been implicit in their underage children having an account on these sites. Even though they say that they keep an eye on what’s being said, or are friends with their child on the sites, it’s just not a guarantee to keep children safe!
The minimum age requirements are there for a reason. Firstly they protect our children from having their personal details collected and stored online (or anywhere for that matter) unless explicit agreed to by a parent or carer. Secondly, children under the age of 13 aren’t hardwired to make good, well thought out choices in the main. Finally, being on social media sites WILL expose them to adults / older children, which makes them vulnerable to all sorts of things.
So what are the minimum age requirements?
Age 13 : Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, Google+, Pinterest
Age 16: WhatsApp
Age 18 (or 13 with a parent’s permission): YouTube, Flickr, Keek
As a parent, we know it’s our job to keep our children safe. We don’t let them wander the streets late at night, we wouldn’t let them have long conversations with strangers, or send photos to someone they don’t know. We watch to make sure they cross the road safely, and teach them to wear helmets when riding a bike.
Being safe online is no different. It’s our job to keep our children safe. We need to teach them how to be safe, and we need to know when it’s appropriate to let them take the reins a little!
If you’d like some more advice on how to keep your children safe online, there is a great website called Internet Matters which has lots of great advice and guidance on all things related to being online.
Have you ever had any dealings with your children wanting to join social media before they were the minimum age? Have you got any great tips to keep children safe online?